The Cardinals have not made the postseason since their 100-win season in 2015. Wednesday, they made a huge splash to close the gap between themselves, the Brewers and Cubs.
St. Louis acquired six-time All-Star and notorious Cubs killer Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks. In return for Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks acquired Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Andrew Young and a 2019 draft pick.
The #STLCards have acquired six-time NL All-Star 1B Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for C Carson Kelly, RHP Luke Weaver, INF Andy Young and the club's Compensation Round B selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. #TimeToFly pic.twitter.com/65SThIrDli— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) December 5, 2018
Goldschmidt, 31, is a career .297 hitter with a .930 OPS. He has hit at least 20 home runs in six of his eight career seasons and has hit at least 30 home runs four times. While he has not won the MVP Award, Goldschmidt has finished in the top-three in voting three times — 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Goldschmidt is also a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2013, 2015, 2017) and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2013, 2015, 2017-18). With all due respect to Freddie Freeman, the Cardinals acquisition of Goldschmidt puts three of baseball's best first basemen — with Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto — in the NL Central Divison.
The Cardinals drafted Kelly, 24, in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He has hit just .154 in 63 career MLB games, though the sample size (117 at-bats) is too small to make any declarations about his future.
Kelly won an MiLB Gold Glove with Single-A Palm Beach in 2015, but he was blocked on the Cardinals' depth chart by nine-time Gold Glove Award winner Yadier Molina.
The 36-year-old Molina is only signed through 2020, but the Cardinals have more catching depth in the minor leagues. Catcher Andrew Knizner, 23, is St. Louis' No. 5 prospect, according to MLB.com, and is projected to make his MLB debut in 2019.
Weaver, 25, is a starting pitcher who was the Cardinals' first round draft pick in 2014. Since making his MLB debut in 2016, he has appeared in 52 games (43 starts), holding a career 4.79 ERA. However, his ERA jumped from 3.88 in 2017 (13 games/10 starts) to 4.95 in 2018 (30 games/25 starts).
Young, 24, has yet to make his big league debut since the Cardinals drafted him in the 37th round in 2016. The second baseman is a career .281 hitter in 289 minor league games.
While Goldschmidt's accolades are all impressive, what he has done against the Cubs and Brewers surely will cause headaches for the two teams and their fans.
In 43 career games against the Cubs, Goldschmidt holds a .353 batting average, 1.170 OPS and has hit 14 home runs, 39 RBIs. He has wrecked an equal amount of havoc on the Brewers, hitting .366 with a 1.130 OPS, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs.
Interestingly enough, Goldschmidt's career numbers in those categories against the Cardinals are all lower than they are against the Cubs and Brewers, respectively.
While one player does not necessarily swing the power in the division, it surely closes the talent gap. The Cardinals won 88 games without Goldschmidt and his 5.1 fWAR in 2018; adding him will certainly improve their offense, which tied for 10th in baseball in runs scored (759) and home runs (205) in 2018.
Overall, you'd think that Goldschmidt would have one of MLB's most lucrative contracts based on his accolades. But like Rizzo, he has one of the most team-friendly deals for a player of his magnitude.
Goldschmidt signed a five-year, $32 million contract with the Diamondbacks in March 2013. He will make just $14.5 million in 2019 before hitting free agency next offseason, meaning the Cardinals gave up two valuable, young assets in Kelly and Weaver for possibly just one year of control of Goldschmidt.
This is not to say that the Cardinals cannot or will not re-sign Goldschmidt before he hits free agency. However, it's clear that they are going all in on the 2019 season by acquiring a known-commodity in him.
In no ways is that meant to be a slight against Weaver or Kelly. Both players could very well could turn into two great MLB players, of course.
After failing to make the playoffs in three-consecutive seasons, though, the Cardinals had to make some sort of move. What better move to make than getting arguably the best first baseman in baseball?